Should brands remain neutral in politics?

There is no doubt that we live in a politically polarizing environment which has become worse under the current administration.  Some brands have taken a stand and in the process, they have been crucified on social media and other media.  Should brands take a stand and speak up at injustices or should they not take sides.

Keurig, the K cup coffee maker, pulled their ads on the Hannity show after his support of Senate candidate Moore.  In response to several people were seen, on social media, smashing their Keurig machines while the CEO begged forgiveness.  Let’s be clear; pulling the ads was the moral and right thing to do, asking forgiveness was not.

Earlier this month, the hashtag #BoycottJimBeam emerged after the actress Mila Kunis, a spokeswoman for the liquor company since 2014, said on “Conan” that she has been donating to Planned Parenthood under Vice President Mike Pence’s name in a form of “peaceful protest.” And Papa John’s has been renouncing the support of white supremacists and apologizing for appearing divisive after its chief executive said on an earnings call that the National Football League’s handling of the national anthem controversy had hurt its pizza sales (yeah right).

According to research people want brands that are socially responsible yet at a time when we need as many voices as possible to discuss the current issues dividing our country too many brands are taking the high road and remaining quiet. There are, however, a lot of brands who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is such as Starbuck’s.  They aren’t afraid that some fringe groups may boycott their products because morality comes above market share.

Now there are some who believe we put too much faith in brand loyalty. They feel that our brands are very important to us marketers and very unimportant to most consumers . I believe this to a certain extent, but there are still a lot of brands that ARE important to people.

Brands have an obligation to their customers to draw a line in the sand and do what is morally and ethically right. However, there are too many chickenshit company executives who don’t want to to do anything that might cause a backlash on social media and disrupt sales. We, as consumers, have the right and obligation to hold brands accountable for their lack of support and for supporting people that are morally reprehensible to us.

 

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